IFMSA Professional Exchange, Zaragoza – Spain, August 2016
I spent my summer internship in Zaragoza, Spain. I have chosen this country because I had just started to learn Spanish language at that time and I really liked it. I had never been in Spain before and I did not have certain expectations about the country. I was admitted to the Pediatrics department which was my first choice and it is also the specialty I would like to do in the future. In fact I spent three weeks in neonatology what was even better and one week at Pediatrics department.
The communication with contact persons before my departure was quite good, they sent me the information about the country, culture, travelling and other important things and they helped me to get the liability insurance several months before my arrival.
I travelled from Vienna airport to Barcelona and from there by AVE train. Another possibility was taking a bus which was cheaper but took four hours instead of one and a half by train. I arrived to Zaragoza at the same time as four other incoming and two contact persons were already waiting for us there. They drove us by car to our flat and show us everything.
I was staying in a student flat, six of us were staying there and the other four in the other flat. When we arrived we could choose the room and each one of us had his own room with a fridge. There were three bathrooms and I was very lucky because only one room had its bathroom and it was mine. Then we had a room with TV and sofa, a kitchen and a wifi connection. I was really satisfied with the accommodation.
On the first day, my contact person showed me the hospital which was 15 minutes away by foot. Every morning there was a sitting where doctors were talking about new or interesting patients. Then I was all day with my tutor, she was three years older than me and she came from Columbia. She was the nicest person I met there and she always explained me everything I asked. Our general occupation was to examine all the newborns, around 20 to 25 patients a day, talk with their parents and then write results in the documentation. In addition, we were called to every delivery or C-section and examined the baby right after birth. She let me do it all by myself and it was great experience. I would not get the opportunity to examine so many newborns in Slovakia.
The atmosphere in hospital was really great, after the morning sittings, doctors went together to cafeteria to have breakfast. They always invited me to go with them and sometimes they even invited me for a coffee although only three of them spoke English. The relationship between doctors and nurses was very friendly and they were working like partners. I felt medical staff in Zaragoza was more relaxed and not stressed as it is always in our hospitals even if the doctors had much more patients to take care of. And they also did their work very professionally.
The city centre was 20 minutes away by foot but we could also go by the tram. I bought a bus card which I charged with a certain amount of money and the tickets were quite cheap. I could buy whatever I needed and a supermarket was very near our flat. In the city centre, there were many restaurants and bars offering typical dishes like tortilla, bocadillos or sangria and several times a week they had special discounts. I ate lunch in my hospital everyday because the food there was really good and for a great price plus we also get pocket money for this purpose.
There were also many night clubs and other places to visit. The city centre was really beautiful, the Placa de Pilar and Basilique were breathtaking. During the weekends we usually planned trips to the nearby towns. My most favorite trip was to The Monastery de Piedra with great waterfalls and lakes and the ruins of the monastery.
The thing I had to get used to was the siesta time when all of the smaller shops were closed from 1 pm to 5 pm and we had practically nothing to do because it was so hot outside and almost everything closed. Talking about weather, I had thought it would be much hotter in Spain than in Slovakia but although it was quite hot, about 35 degrees, the humidity was much lower so it was not that bad.
To sum up, I am really glad I had taken this opportunity and went for the summer internship to Zaragoza. Of course, the beginnings were hard, getting used to everything and being alone in a foreign country was a bit stressful at first. But when I look back, I see faces of the people I met, I remember the great moments with them, my time in hospital with my tutor and things I learnt which I have already used during the internship in my last year in medical school in Slovakia.